'Making Bets' at the Fellowship in Teacher Education launch

June 27, 2018
Stuart Lock

Stuart Lock

Executive Principal, Advantage Schools

Too many teacher educators have been taught how to teach teachers. At the launch of our Fellowship in Teacher Education, we considered how to more deliberately design, deliver and assess teacher development activities.

“This is a pioneering programme – nothing like this currently exists”

...…said Peps Mccrea as he welcomed a group of partners and supporters to the Launch of the Institute for Teaching’s new Fellowship in Teacher Education.

Mccrea is a successful teacher-educator, well-regarded for his pithy, insightful books on effective teaching and learning, and he has a significant social media following. Peps joined the IfT in its early days because it’s research-led and deliberate-practice focused approach appealed to him.

Too many teacher-educators have never been taught how to teach teachers. So the development of the most valuable resource we have in schools is often left to chance. Teacher development is subject to the variations in the quality of local curricula and local subject or phase-mentors.

Rather than allowing this to be an excuse for limiting the scope or ambition of the IfT, it’s the reason for their almost unlimited ambition. The Fellowship, led by the personable and knowledgeable Harry Fletcher-Wood, is designed to equip teacher-educators, whether professional tutors, senior teachers or head teachers, with the specialist knowledge and skills to transform teacher education. And the ambition on show extends not just to these individuals, but to the whole system.

At the Fellowship launch, I had the opportunity to observe one of the first sessions of the course, during which Fletcher-Wood explored the concept of the ‘bets’ that every teacher educator needs to make when formulating their training approach:

“Should the content of a teacher-education programme be determined by the participants, or by the institution?” 

Fletcher-Wood asks.

From the rich and varied discussion that followed, one could see the participants developing more intentional bets – that is, making more considered decisions and becoming more aware of the possible consequences.

“How subject-specific is the programme?” …
“How explicitly do you address socio-political factors?” …

Of course, teacher-educators already decide these things – perhaps by repeating what was done the year before, or perhaps by going on ‘gut instinct’. But the consequences are significant.

We repeatedly hear about developing ‘explicit’ and ‘intentional’ bets, which are informed by research, and I am utterly convinced that each of the participants will be well-equipped with the best research and insights that the IfT can offer. How could one attend a course run by an institution directed by Marie Hamer and Matt Hood, with design and teaching from the likes of Nick Rose, Peps Mccrea and Harry Fletcher-Wood, and not be research-literate?

Throughout the launch, my overwhelming feeling was that the participants on the Fellowship in Teacher Education are being trained to return to their institutions not just as the best teacher-educators in the world, but equipped to challenge the leaders of their schools, MATs and training institutions, and hence encouraged to rip up the orthodoxy and do something significantly better. Repeatedly IfT participants and faculty members return to discussing the importance of ‘alignment’ and of sharing thinking and research, discussing with others and leading change – from the outset the IfT have been openly sharing their ‘thinking’ online and at events, and always welcome debate.

“Outcomes in this country are not good enough” says one participant, reflecting what I feel was one of the most exciting aspects of the afternoon. In talking to participants, course designers and every single member of the IfT – including those with no background in education – everything is about improving the quality of teaching for young people. During discussions at the launch the IfT team referenced some of the most incredible courses and people across the world, from which they have drawn inspiration, and I am convinced that this course could be a game changer for our schools and hence our young people.

“There are about 20 people on the Fellowship programme. That’s 20 lucky schools” I say.
“We’re aiming to have significant influence outside of those institutions” replies Peps.

As I’ve said, I’m convinced that this level of ambition will transform teaching in the UK. The Institute for Teaching is aiming to make teaching more research-informed, more effective, with a practice-based model, and they want to reach every single teacher.

I believe they can do it too – that’s what is exciting.

This article originally appeared on the website of the Institute for Teaching. In March 2019 the Institute for Teaching merged with Ambition School Leadership to form Ambition Institute.

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